Assessment of Child Welfare Requires More Data

The ‘Child Well-Being’ compendium prepared by Statistics Estonia, which gives an overview of the situation of Estonian children, will be presented at the Office of the Chancellor of Justice today. The Ombudsman for Children feels that it highlights the issues that need more attention to ensure that children have a good life in Estonia.

Ombudsman for Children Indrek Teder considers it positive that Statistics Estonia decided to disclose information about children in a separate compendium, because mapping the situation of children creates better opportunities for guaranteeing their welfare. “Many people need information about children in their work, including psychologists, youth workers, teachers, physicians and legislators, and it’s important that such information is regularly published and accessible to everyone,” he said. “Unfortunately, data concerning children is currently not published on a common basis, which makes it difficult to assess their actual situation.”  He hoped that the compendium would lay the foundations for a tradition, and that in addition to it Statistics Estonia would start publishing child well-being data regularly on its website. “The compendium points out the areas that need more attention if we’re to ensure that children have a good life in Estonia, and helps put children as an important part of society in a more prominent place than they have been up to now, and value them more,” noted the Ombudsman.

The number of children under the age of 18 living in Estonia as at 1 January 2013 according to Statistics Estonia was 237,000, comprising 18% of the population. Although children account for almost a fifth of all people in the country, their opinion is often considered irrelevant, even in matters that concern the children themselves, said Andra Reinomägi, an adviser with the Children’s Rights Department of the Office of the Chancellor of Justice. “The compendium indicates that while children themselves feel that they usually get to have a say in decision-making at home, they have considerably fewer opportunities to voice their opinions at school, and their opinions are hardly ever sought in society on a broader scale – for example when it comes to bus schedules, leisure opportunities or laws that concerns children,” Reinomägi explained. She added that adults could include children more in various issues that concern the lives of children, because the youngsters are the experts when it comes to their needs.

Reinomägi feels that is it important that the compendium and the related e-publication of Statistics Estonia entitled ‘Measuring Child Well-Being’ look at child well-being and development conditions on a broader scale, underlining that child well-being is more than a description of a family’s financial situation. It is also important to consider the participation and inclusion of children, their environment and human relations, security, time spent with their parents and many other factors. For example, the collection indicates that children would like to spend more time with their parents and that a third of parents often feel they do not have enough time for their children. Supporting parents is also important: they admitted that they often lack the knowledge they need to cope as parents; half do not know where to go or who to contact to get help; and a third of parents admitted they were afraid to ask for help.

The ‘Child Well-Being’ compendium and the ‘Measuring Child Well-Being’ e-publication were written with the help of experts from various agencies. Further information about them can be found on the website of Statistics Estonia at